The Portland Trail blazers have been dancing with time, with this season shaping up to be the last trail they take in their current era.
“We’re not the Brooklyn Nets. They have superstar power. You know the ability of that team. One day they can get hot and run you out of the gym. We’re not that team. But we’ve been in a ditch and we’re figuring out a way to get out of it.”
This is a quote from Damian Lillard himself, talking about the state of the team after their 5th straight loss on Sunday. The Portland Trail blazers are 2-8 in their last ten games and although they sit four games above .500, they are currently 7th in the West behind Dallas. Which puts them at risk of not making the playoffs if they indeed stay as one of the “Play-In” seeds.
The Trail Blazers have been playing on borrowed time for a few seasons now and although they’ve had their fair share of playoff runs, including a trip to the WCFs in 2019. Unfortunately, I think this season is where it ends for them. Too many times Portland has entered seasons with the “How far can Dame take us?” mentality with little to show for it. We all know how special Dame is, and we know what he brings to the table as a performer, but he needs help.
Yes, basketball players stating that they need “help” is often criticized by both fans and media, but with Dame it's the absolute truth. Trading Gary Trent Jr. for a Norman Powell rental was not a good idea. I doubt Norman stays in Portland for next season when he’s more likely to get paid in free agency. The Trail Blazers have also held on to Terry Stotts too long who has shown time and time again that he is not equipped to get Portland to the next level.
Portland is also known for being very lackluster on defense sometimes as they currently rank 28th in Defensive Rating with a number of 115.7.
Portland has had their bad luck with free agents with Carmelo Anthony sitting at the top of that list for me. In 2014, Melo would test the waters in free agency making him one of the biggest free agents in the NBA. Portland showed interest along with Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles (Lakers), and Houston. But Melo would decide to stay in New York, and we all know how that turned out. Who knows what great things Portland would have done if they landed one of the greatest scorers in NBA history in Carmelo.
I don’t know where Portland should go with this roster, but I think they should blow it up and try keeping Dame in the process. As loyal as Dame is though, I don’t think he would be all that happy with playing on a rebuilding team. CJ McCollum is 29 and Dame is 30, and they both are tied to the franchise for the next few years making over $100M apiece.
Portland is definitely going to have to make some changes if they want to contend for championships year in and year out. Constantly sitting at the 4th or 5th seed or fighting for one of the last spots shows no signs of improvement, and starts to become wasted prime years of generational players like Damian. Comments like the one above start to become a trend, and Dame doesn’t typically say those things to the media, so it’s no doubt that he’s frustrated.